Entering the UK with a Re-Entry Ban
Receiving a UK re-entry ban can come as a devastating blow, especially if you have friends, family, and other interests here. The Home Office imposes entry bans where they believe that individuals have breached immigration law or they have used some form of deception when applying for a visa. Depending on the reason, a re-entry ban may be for one, two, five, or ten years. If you have received a ban of any duration, you may be wondering if there are any exceptions that will allow you to enter the UK. In this article, we will explain the UK re-entry ban process and how it may be possible to enter the country despite the ban.
Why are Re-entry Bans Issued?
Re-entry bans typically relate to specific incidents of breaching UK immigration rules. The Home Office guidance states that individuals may be the subject of a re-entry ban where they have breached the immigration laws by:
- breaching a condition attached to their leave
- entering the UK illegally
- using deception in an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain
(whether successful or not)
The length of the ban will depend on a range of circumstances, including:
- the length of any overstay
- when the person overstayed
- the type of immigration rules breached
- whether the person voluntarily departed the UK at the Secretary of State’s expense (this typically leads to a two or five-year ban)
Home Office case officers have to weigh up all of the factors to determine how long the re-entry ban should last for. For example, the guidance states “Where paragraph 320(7B) of the Immigration Rules applies, people who leave the UK voluntarily at the Secretary of State’s expense are subject to a mandatory two-year re-entry ban if the date of their departure was no more than six months after the date on which they either:
- were given notice of their removal decision
- no longer had a pending appeal against that decision (appeal rights exhausted)
whichever is the later”. If the individual took longer to leave, this would lead to a five-year ban. Cases of forced removal lead to a ten-year re-entry ban.
Is it Possible to Gain Entry to the UK Even with a Re-entry Ban?
If you are applying to enter the UK on a family visa, or under EEA or EU law, a re-entry ban may not apply. Outside of these scenarios, case officers reviewing any application for entry clearance are also required to consider “if there are any human rights reasons, such as a) the right to family life under article 8, or if there are any exceptional, compelling circumstances”. Such cases are then referred to as the Referred Casework Unit (RCU) who will make the decision whether to grant entry clearance outside of the rules.
The problem with applications for ‘leave outside the rules’ (LOTR) is that they are unlikely to succeed. The LOTR guidance states, “grant of LOTR should be rare. Discretion should be used sparingly where there are factors that warrant a grant of leave despite the requirements of the Immigration Rules or specific policies having not been met. Factors raised in their application must mean it would not be proportionate to expect the person to remain outside of the UK or to leave the UK”.
You may also be exempted from a re-entry ban if you:
- received a ban when you were younger than 18 years old
- didn’t know the documents or information provided with previous applications were false
- were a victim of human trafficking
- have been given a visa even though you have a re-entry ban
- were in the UK without permission after 17 March 2008 but voluntarily left before 1 October 2008
While these exceptions may be used to gain entry to the UK even if you have a re-entry ban, the immigration rules do contain provisions that may prevent the granting of a visa. Section 320(11) of the immigration rules states that an entry visa may be refused, “where the applicant has previously contrived in a significant way to frustrate the intentions of the Rules by:
(i) overstaying; or
(ii) breaching a condition attached to his leave; or
(iii) being an illegal entrant; or
(iv) using deception in an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain or in order to obtain documents from the Secretary of State or a third party required in support of the application (whether successful or not);
and there are other aggravating circumstances, such as absconding, not meeting temporary admission/reporting restrictions or bail conditions, using an assumed identity or multiple identities, switching nationality, making frivolous applications, or not complying with the re-documentation process”. In other words, the Home Office can still refuse entry even if you are in one of the exempted groups listed above if there are aggravating factors (e.g. leaving the country after using the NHS without permission).
A re-entry ban from the UK will not prevent entry to the UK in all circumstances. If you have an active re-entry ban and are considering coming to the UK, or if you have just received a ban, it is advisable to engage the services of immigration Solicitors who can represent you. This is especially the case if you have family members and/or dependents in the UK. A sound knowledge of UK immigration law, EU law, and human rights law is essential in ensuring that when you apply for a new entry visa, you have the best chance of receiving a positive decision. This will be the case if you are relying on leave outside the rules or article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. An immigration lawyer will, in addition to your application, include a detailed covering letter which will pre-empt against any of the possible grounds for refusal which the Home Office has at its disposal.
Related article: Common reasons why a UK visa application can be refused
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